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The Private Library What We Do Know, What We Don't Know, What We Ought to Know About Our Books   By: (1865-1946)

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In "The Private Library: What We Do Know, What We Don't Know, What We Ought to Know About Our Books," author Arthur Lee Humphreys takes readers on an insightful journey into the multifaceted world of private libraries. Through illuminating anecdotes, historical context, and a deep understanding of bibliophilic passion, Humphreys crafts a compelling narrative that sheds light on both the hidden treasures within our personal book collections and the mysteries that often surround them.

The strength of this book lies in its ability to captivate readers from the very beginning. Humphreys skillfully combines his research with personal experiences, resulting in a relatable and engaging narrative. He explores the connection between readers and their books, sharing tales of serendipitous discoveries and heartfelt connections that can be fostered within the private library space.

What sets "The Private Library" apart is its emphasis on the unknown aspects of our book collections. Humphreys delves into the stories behind marginalia, bookplates, and faded inscriptions, emphasizing how these seemingly insignificant details can provide a glimpse into the past lives and passions of previous owners. By examining the physical characteristics of a book, he invites readers to reflect on the layers of history that have accumulated within the paper and bindings.

The depth of Humphreys' research becomes evident as he meticulously uncovers the stories behind famous private libraries throughout history. From the extravagant libraries of world-renowned collectors to the humble book nooks of ordinary individuals, he unravels the mysteries that lie within these walls. His discussion on the motivations and desires that fuel the act of collecting is particularly thought-provoking, prompting readers to evaluate their own personal libraries in a new light.

While "The Private Library" provides a rich tapestry of information, it occasionally veers off into tangential topics, which may momentarily distract readers from the main thread. However, Humphreys' writing style swiftly pulls them back, ensuring a cohesive and engaging reading experience overall.

One minor criticism is the lack of visual representations of the private libraries being discussed. Including accompanying photographs or illustrations would have enriched the reading experience, allowing readers to visualize the spaces and objects described in the text. Nevertheless, Humphreys compensates for this by painting vivid mental images through his prose, rendering the absence of visuals somewhat negligible.

Overall, "The Private Library" by Arthur Lee Humphreys is a captivating exploration of the intimate relationship between readers and their books. Through enthralling narratives, meticulous research, and a keen eye for detail, Humphreys unravels the enigmatic world of private libraries, leaving readers inspired to rethink their own treasures. Whether you are a devoted bibliophile or simply someone looking to unlock the secrets hidden within bookshelves, this book offers a delightful and insightful journey into the heart of private libraries.

First Page:





Fourth Edition.




WITH all the literature published on behalf of Free Libraries institutions which, after all, are of doubtful good no one so far has written a book to assist in making THE PRIVATE LIBRARY combine practical useful qualities with decorative effect.

For many years I have had opportunities of inspecting and reporting upon Collections of Books in numerous Country Houses, and I must say that the condition of books in the greater number of them is chaotic. A man will talk about all his possessions his pictures, his objets d'art, his horses, his garden, and his bicycle, but rarely will he talk about his books; and if he does so, all his geese are swans, or just as often, all his swans are geese. There are servants in every house qualified to do everything except handle a book. There is no reason why the Library should not be just as much a place of amusement as the billiard room, where the men are usually to be found. Books are much more amusing than billiards, and you may learn to play in jest or work in earnest with books just as you take to any other amusement... Continue reading book >>

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